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The Empire of Daerond

Daeron History
Population Centers
Important Sites

 

THE EMPIRE OF DAEROND
Capital: Acherai
Population:
1,482,460 (40% Human, 35% Orc, 20% Half-Orc, 4% Ogre)
Government:
Theocracy
Religions:
Malbor
Imports:
Slaves, timber, fruit, grain, spells
Exports:
Iron, Bronze, magic items, mercenaries

Largest and strongest of the northern successor states, the Holy Empire of Daerond is a bastion of evil. From the iron citadel of Acherai to the slave pits of the Ashen mountains, the orcs and men of Daerond labor ceaselessly to bring the successor states under their dominion.

Daerond is ruled by thirteen Black Dukes, the feared leaders of the thirteen great houses of Daerond. Each great house has different rules for the succession of Black Dukes, but each represents in some way the most important traits of his or her house. In addition to the thirteen great houses, there are many dozens of smaller noble houses in Daerond, each of which is allied for protection and support with one of the great houses.

Among the Black Dukes, the most powerful is Bishop Morbanes, Black Duke of Acherai, and high priest of Malbor. His forces seized the city during the long Daerond civil war, and he is the most feared of all the Black Dukes. In addition, he has the support not only of some of the great houses, but of the Church of Malbor. Theoretically first among equals, Morbanes is in fact the ruler of Daerond. Few dare to oppose him openly and all fear the attention of his fanatically loyal assassins.

HISTORY

Once a fertile coastal plain, Daerond was shattered in the fall of Numanthaur. The wrath of the gods fell especially hard here at the end of that ancient age, for this was one of the greatest centers of its wickedness. The land was riven with abysses and mountains were reared up, tall and terrible. The fertile soil dried up and the rivers choked with dust.

Over the age that followed, tribes of men and orcs waged war for the scant resources of the parched land, particularly for access to the few rivers that still flowed down to the sea. By the time the Conorrians marched in, the inhabitants of Daerond had become proficient at survival in the barren wilderness and had become inured to the hardships of their world. They relied heavily on slavery till the few barely arable upland fields and meadows.

Under the Conorrians, Daerond was transformed. The marvelous Conorrian roads allowed quick transit of the most hostile territory. Daerond became, in effect, two nations. Along the lowland roads, a series of Conorrian trading towns sprang up, while the deep wilderness and mountainous uplands were left to the native tribes, who lived by meager trade and banditry. And many turned to the worship of evil Malbor, the god that promised them power, and a return to dominion over their own lands.

The cult of Malbor grew strong in the Conorrian years, indulging in slavery, necromancy and banditry. It was during this time that the great Malborite artifact known as the Nightmare Gauntlet was forged. With it, the cult was able to recruit allies of great power: dragons, beholders, and enitre tribes of ogres and trolls. The Conorrians spent centuries attempting to stomp out the cult, but never quite managed to destroy it. When the Mage Wars erupted, the cult was quick to spur on the chaos, sending its assassins to deal with peacemakers on all sides.

In many ways, this backfired. The resulting Miletian empire was far more vigorous in persecuting the Malborites than ever the Conorrians had been. Emperors from Markimillien onward placed a special emphasis on hunting down and destroying every last member of the cult. Under the emperor Llorcan the Golden, this policy nearly succeeded. Skilled infiltrators betrayed the cult’s leadership and brave agents of the empire destroyed the Nightmare Gauntlet and slew all of the cult’s priests. All except one, Kadrech the Lame, who wandered hidden in the Worldspine mountains, waiting to bring back the cult of his god. In the meantime, Daerond had become a peaceful, if poor, province of the Miletian Empire, best known as a waystation on the route to the riches of Tirgonia and the far north.

If the Mage Wars held a hidden curse for the cult of Malbor, the invasion of the Darothic hordes in 2282 held a dark blessing. The hated Miletian power was swept away nearly overnight, and the parched plains of Daerond were given hardly a second thought as the empire and barbarians entered into their mutual death struggle. Into this sudden vacuum entered the disciples of Kadrech the Lame, preaching the gospel of hatred and revenge. At first, they spoke only in whispers, but soon they were proclaiming the word of Malbor to great multitudes who heard only that a great god would return their land to them. Soon, the followers of Kadrech were masters of a hardened, bitter people who burned with a desire to conquer the soft peoples around them and take their fertile lands for themselves.

By the end of the twenty-fourth century, Daerond was firmly under the sway of the lich Dyrethis, known as the Black King. Dyrethis sought always to expand his evil dominion and to learn the secrets of godhood, for he considered that he had become greater than any mortal. The following centuries saw his empire rise to encompass everything from the Dun Aerinn river in the north to the Golden Sea in the south, and from the Great Ocean in the west to the Hammersea in the east. Lesser liches were his lieutenants, while mortal priests and even dragons ruled over his provinces. Dyrethis’ end came in 2641 at the battle of Dwarfbridge in Tirgonia. There his orcish legions met the combined armies of Rhanalor, Tirgonia and the Elven Isles while he himself stood against the allied archmages in battle. He was trapped and destroyed, his essence dispersed upon a strong wind, and his armies streamed back to Daerond in defeat.

The powers of Daerond collapsed with the death of the Black King. After the war, only the deserts were left to Dyrethis’ followers, the Black Dukes. These nursed their wounds and built back their strength. Nearly a century later, the Black Dukes invaded the Harkorian League, absorbing the League’s powerful trading strength and adding it to their own already powerful navy.

In 2755, the Daerons again invaded Tirgonia, now much weaker as a result of having sent so much strength to the Crusades. Daerond armies conquered all of their old northern territories, forming a frontier at the Dun Aerinn river. As of old, they never managed to take the great city of Cruachan, though they subjected it to one of the longest sieges in history. At the point where the via brythnium, the great northern road, crosses the Dun Aerinn, they erected a necromantic watchtower known as Hellsmouth Keep. From here, the Black Dukes’ dread legions marched forth on raids to capture slaves and goods from the surrounding lands. This time, the Tirgonians had no allies to help them, and were hard-pressed to answer the constant pressure from the south. In fact, in 2756, the royal family of Bekanor was assassinated and the Bekanai clans invaded their former ally, forcing the Tirgonians to fight two wars at once.

The Daerondese had problems of their own, however. In addition to rising tensions among the Black Dukes, an increasing agitation among the Harkorians, as well as orcish raids from the Worldspine mountains meant an increasing instability for the evil Empire. In 2763, Tirgonia and their new Skane allies defeated the Bekanai tribes and turned its full military force south to the Daeron border. In 2770, an attempt on the life of Bishop Morbanes, high priest of Malbor, signalled the start of the bloody Daeron civil war. At the end of the war, Daerond had been driven back to its historical borders, its foreign conquests completely destroyed. But now Morbanes is in a more powerful position than any Daeron leader since the death of Dyrethis, and he has plans for the future.

MAJOR POPULATION CENTERS

Acherai - (Large city; population 61,720) Daerond’s nightmare City of Skulls sits on the northern rim of the Great Rift, where the river Glamhoth thunders over the edge and into the abyss below. The dark heart of Daerond, most who see it never leave to tell the tale. Monsters walk freely within its walls and the eyes of the Inquisitors are everywhere. The two largest buildings in Acherai are the black spire of the Temple of Malbor and the great arena, where blood duels are fought to entertain the masses of the city.

Mount Hoarwind - (Small city; population 34,380) Under the high peaks in northeast Daerond there lies a city carved into the rock. Here the orcs have carved out a great system of caverns and redoubts, and thrown up the massive Tower of the Broken Moon. In the pits below Mount Hoarwind, great stores of weapons and armor are forged, supplying the armies of Daerond and her allies. This city is ruled over by the mysterious, inhuman Black Duke named Null.

Aluirek - (Large city; population 78,810) Daerond’s largest port, Aluirek sits on the banks of the Glamhoth river, twenty-two miles upstream from where the river meets the sea. From here, the great Daeron galleys glide forth to war and piracy, while the smaller cogs hug the shore, trading with Harkoria and the Mahadran Isles. Foreigners are likely to encounter a slightly less frigid welcome in Aluirek than elsewhere, but are warned to be on their guard. Press gangs are common, and enforced service on a Daeron ship is usually a death sentence.

IMPORTANT LOCAL SITES

The Great Rift - When the wrath of the gods fell on Numanthaur, it fell hard here. Ancient legends say that a city of the ancients was so wicked that the gods plunged it far below the earth, and that their last desperate attempt to free themselves resulted in a vast piece of the earth being lifted from below. Whatever the truth of these myths, the result is the Great Rift, a seventy-mile-long valley carved deep into the earth in the northern Daerond. The Rift has always been known as a breeding ground of fell beasts, and an entry onto the secret worlds below Theeurth. A dense mist hangs over the floor of the Rift, and green vegetation grows up its sides. Many Daerons live on the uppermost cliffs of the Rift, but few dare venture into its depths.

The Grey Wastes - Since time immemorial, the center of Daerond has been a waterless, hostile desert of dismal, blowing dust and salt flats known as the Grey Wastes. What few miserable creatures make this hellish wilderness their home are almost unknown, even to the Daerons. During the day, the temperature can soar to over 120°. During the night, it can plummet to below freezing. Local legend says that the desert is inhabited by the ghosts of the ancients.

The Hills of Terror - The name of these hills in southeastern Daerond comes from the wild and dangerous beasts that live there, particularly trolls and giant spiders who trap and consume the unwary. The ancient via brythnia, or great northern road, still winds among these hills, preserved by ancient magics, but unused and home to dangerous creatures unwilling that trade should go through their demesne.

The River Narglaurith - This wide and substantial river marks the traditional border between Daerond and the Harkorian League. It’s banks are among the only truly fertile land in Daerond, and so are covered in vast slave farms who work to feed the legions of the northern cities. The river supplies fish and game, as well as defense. A single bridge spans the mighty course at Erzarus, far upstream. The Narglaurith fens near the ocean are home to a variety of unwholesome creatures, including a fiercely independent clan of lizard-men.

 
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